State Senator Scott McCoy will address Southern Utahns interested in starting a chapter of Stonewall Democrats at Dixie State College’s Dunford Auditorium on Nov. 19.
“My purpose in going down is to help them get organized and to teach them how to be a political organization,” said McCoy, who was sworn in as Utah’s first openly gay senator in February, 2005.
McCoy’s visit was arranged through Pride Club, Dixie State College’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer student group. The group was begun last year largely through the efforts of Doug Gubler, a returning student who has “made it his mission to see if a gay pride club could happen at Dixie,” according to faculty supporter Tim Eicher.
Eicher added that McCoy’s speaking arrangement was the latest in a series of the monthly events for gay and allied students. On Nov. 6, for example, the group heard a presentation from the Washington County AIDS Task Force.
Although Eicher said Gubler and not he has been in direct contact with the senator, he is looking forward to McCoy’s talk.
“I expect from Scott to talk about some of his own obstacles but also the civic commitment to live a full life in spite of those obstacles,” he said.
At press time, Gubler could not be reached for comment.
According to McCoy, the interest in beginning a second Stonewall Democrats chapter in Utah is due also in part to the efforts of Southern Utah’s chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays to organize gay rights groups in the area, and particularly in Saint George.
“As St. George grows the gay people down here need more of a voice” said Claudia Bradshaw, a PFLAG member.
Bradshaw, who has belonged to PFLAG since her son came out as gay nine years ago, said Utah Stonewall Democrats asked her if she would be interested in serving as the Stonewall Democrats contact in Southern Utah. When Bradshaw mentioned the group at a luncheon for local Democrats, she said 35 people signed up to receive more information. The interest got her thinking about inviting McCoy down to Saint George to speak.
“I was thinking I’d have this little meeting at my house, but then a student at Dixie was able to get the auditorium, and it’s just grown since then,” she said.
McCoy said its time for Saint George to join dozens of other cities with Stonewall Democrats chapters.
“They’re getting to the point down there where they can sustain a chapter and start doing well for each other,” he said.
A mixer at the college’s Gardner Center will precede McCoy’s talk at 5:30 p.m.